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Taxes increases on the way

BY TRACEY DUGUAY tracey @northernlife.ca It looks like a five percent tax increase is on the horizon for residents of Greater Sudbury as the city faces ballooning rates for municipal salaries, benefits, and pension costs.
BY TRACEY DUGUAY

It looks like a five percent tax increase is on the horizon for residents of Greater Sudbury as the city faces ballooning rates for municipal salaries, benefits, and pension costs.

Mieto
Other reasons for the proposed tax increase, such as rising utility costs, reductions in provincial grants, and an aging infrastructure, were also cited at a meeting Wednesday evening to introduce city council to the Draft 2006 Operating Budget.

The operating budget reflects a 2.7 percent increase on municipal taxes, with a proposed capital levy, to be dealt with by council in January, accounting for the additional 2.3 percent.

If passed as is, the proposed budget calls for a property tax increase of $7.65 per month for a home valued at $120,000 or $11.50 for a home valued at $180,000.

A series of meeting to review and debate the proposed budget will be held over the next two weeks to give council time to review and discuss the 2006 Operating Budget.

In a presentation by Mark Mieto, the chief administrative officer for the city, according to a survey taken of Sudbury residents, roads remain a top priority, followed by employment and taxes.

During budget public input sessions, the focus was on leisure facilities and programs, then roads and sidewalks, transit and waste management. In total, requests by the public accounted for $1.3 million in enhancements built into the 2006 budget, said Mieto.

In January, council is expected to vote on a 2006 Draft Capital Budget, which will prioritize capital projects the city will address using the funds from the 2.3 percent capital levy tax, which amounts to $3.3 million for next year.

In October, council met to discuss a 10-year capital needs and financing gap. In short, in the next 10 years, the city must come up with $1.047 billion to meet its infrastructure and growth needs.

At this point, there's only an estimated $630 million available in funds to cover those costs, which leaves a $417 million shortfall.

Budget meetings will be held in council chambers at Tom Davies Square on Monday, Dec. 5, Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Tuesday, Dec. 13, from 5:30 to 10 pm. Council is expected to formally adopt the operating budget on Dec. 15.